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Should You Testify in Your Own Defense?

A judge's gavel on top of a folder with a sheet of paper that says "Witness Stand", representing how one can benefit from calling a Portland criminal defense lawyer.

If you’re facing a criminal charge in the state of Maine, whether it be for operating under the influence (OUI), or a drug crime, or any other type of crime, one of the most important questions you’ll face as you get to trial is whether to testify on your own behalf. Without the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney like William T. Bly, this can be a crippling decision to make, with serious repercussions if you make a mistake.

You Can’t Be Forced to Testify at Your Trial

One of the most important facts in this decision is that you cannot be forced to take the stand and testify at your trial. The Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits this from happening. Instead, you are guaranteed to have the choice of whether to take the stand in your own defense.

The reason for this is simple: Taking the stand and answering tough questions in a court of law, with the threat of criminal conviction hanging over your head, is not something that even completely innocent people can do all the time. Testifying is nerve-wracking, and forcing someone to do it could result in innocent people looking guilty enough for a jury to convict them.

Reasons Not to Take the Stand

There are numerous reasons why you shouldn’t take the stand in your defense at your own trial.

One of the main reasons is that cross-examinations can be incredibly difficult. Prosecutors have one job to do: Put you behind bars. They are all smart people who have gone to law school, passed the bar exam, and had years of practice and training in finding incriminating evidence and getting you to say incriminating things on the stand. Lifelong criminals have been through a trial a few times before. Prosecutors have been through hundreds. It’s easy to think that you can survive a cross-examination without saying anything incriminating. It’s another thing to do it.

There are other reasons not to take the stand, too. One is that it’s up to the prosecutor to prove that you’re guilty, not for you to prove that you’re innocent. Another is that, by testifying, the prosecutor might be able to bring in evidence of prior convictions you’ve had. This is because the credibility of anyone who testifies in court is crucially important, and certain prior convictions can be used by the prosecutor if they want to show that you shouldn’t be trusted.

Maine Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly

Deciding whether to testify in your own defense is a hugely important decision. Making it on your own is putting yourself at serious risk.

If you’re been charged with a crime in the state of Maine, hiring the best criminal defense attorney you can find is essential if you want to avoid a criminal conviction. Contact the law office of William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146 or contact his law office online to get the legal help you need.


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Great group of people. Managed to get me a favorable outcome from a very bad situation. I would highly recommend this firm if you have legal troubles. Top notch performance!!

Dave Allen

So thankful I chose this team to represent me. They’re the best, hands down. Nathan Hitchcock proved my innocence not once but TWICE, including a trial by jury. I have a family in law enforcement who told me “Bill Bly and his team are the best. If I would recommend anyone, it would be them.”

Brandon Albert





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If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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